Toyota’s all-new 2017 World Rally Car will be created at the Tommi Makinen Racing facility in Puuppola, according to the four-time WRC champion.
Makinen has been brought in as team principal for Toyota’s new Yaris program in a move that has bypassed the firm’s own motorsport arm TMG in Cologne.
While Makinen was unable to offer firm news on where the program will be based, it is expected to remain in central Finland and move to a newly-built facility on the Halli military airfield base just outside Jyvaskyla. A relocation to Helsinki is understood to have been rejected.
“Not so much has changed since I talked last time, but the team is coming together,” Makinen said. We are still working on everything, but there is nothing new to say. We don’t know where we will be based, but it’s going to take time to get this working, so we stay in the current [facility] for now.”
New recruits to the Toyota program are believed to include Michael Zotos – who worked with Makinen at Subaru before his retirement in 2003 – and ex-M-Sport engineer Tom Fowler.
Recently retired Mikko Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen are also believed to be on the Makinen/Toyota program’s books.
“I would be interested to work with Tommi on the WRC project,” Hirvonen confirmed. “It’s still very early, but let’s see how it’s going to evolve. I live only three kilometres from the workshop and Tommi, so if there is stuff going on and it needs testing then it’s easy for me to go and do the work.”